Junior King’s 90th Anniversary Celebrations

The Junior King’s School is celebrating its 90th anniversary on its historic site in Sturry, Canterbury today. Junior King’s prides itself on its modern, creative approach to education, but Friday sees it plunging back in time to the 1920s for one day only. With plenty of surprises in store for the children throughout the day, the school will also be looking back on its 90 year history in its current location.

Opened in 1879 as the preparatory school to the King’s School Canterbury, Junior King’s was initially based with the senior school in the heart of the city within the Cathedral Precincts. In 1929, the junior school was moved to its current site at Milner Court in Sturry, two miles outside the city, a beautiful 80-acre countryside location that allowed it to expand and to develop its own character and strengths away from the senior school.

Once home to Lord and Lady Milner, the Milner Court estate was gifted to the King’s School by Lady Milner on the death of her husband. Over the 90 years of the school’s history on the site, the 16th century Tithe Barn and Manor House, gardens and orchard have been adapted and added to in order to house a modern, dynamic school with a focus on creative, all-round education and broad curriculum learning. The barn has been converted into a fully-equipped theatre, the Manor House now holds classrooms and the school’s reception, and these historic buildings have been augmented by modern educational, boarding, extra-curricular and sporting facilities for boys and girls aged between 3 and 13.

With Lady Milner’s original donation fully integrated into modern school life, her generosity is experienced on a daily basis. Today, pupils are celebrating the 90th anniversary of the site’s opening on what is known as ‘Kipling Day’ throughout the school. Celebrated annually, Kipling Day is named for Rudyard Kipling, a good friend of the Milners, who opened the site in 1929. In this historic year, Kipling Day sees a day full of surprises for the children.

Opening the day, an assembly focusing on the school’s history, followed by a number of 1920s themed activities will give a retro spin to academic and extracurricular lessons that pupils might enjoy during their normal school week. With an active day ahead, sports kits will be worn for this jam-packed occasion, which will cover art and crafts, PE, music, dance and, finally, fun on a vintage-style carousel. There will also be a pared down version available for younger pupils. Even lunch has been given a historic flavour, with a 1920s menu that has been carefully curated to please modern taste buds!

Lord Milner was very fond of his orchard, which is overlooked today by the school dining hall. It seems fitting then that each year group will also be planting trees to commemorate the school’s 90 years on the site. While fun is the primary goal of the day, the event is also a covert exercise in the importance of history, and one’s own place in it, as well as thankfulness for the generosity of others. 90 years out from when the site became a school, Lord and Lady Milner’s portraits still hang in the Manor House, which was once their home. These portraits serve as a quiet reminder of how an act of generosity can have an impact on so many, even 90 years later and beyond.

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